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ESPN Includes Broncos TE Albert Okwuegbunam in Aaron Rodgers Trade Proposal

Mile High Huddle on FanNation logo Mile High Huddle on FanNation 1/1/2022 Zack Kelberman
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Could Denver part with an offensive stud?

Unlike some other scenarios you've seen, there is a high possibility, if not probability, the return for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — assuming he's traded during the offseason — will feature at least one young, starting-caliber player.

So, in the interest of realism, ESPN's Bill Barnwell floated a speculative deal to Rodgers' chief suitor, the Denver Broncos: first- and second-round picks in the 2022 and 2023 drafts and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam for the future Hall-of-Famer.

Because, "obviously, it won't be cheap."

"Rodgers, 38, is due just under $27 million for the 2022 season, after which the final year of his deal will void. The Broncos aren't making this deal for one year of him, so they'll sign him to a new contract in the process," Barnwell predicted on December 23. "His three-year extension will be worth $126 million, although the contract will have two voidable years to keep down his cap hits. The Broncos will essentially be committing to Rodgers through 2024."

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Barnwell's hypothetical package is similar to that of Pro Football Focus' Brad Spielberger, who also projected the Broncos sending their top four picks in the next two drafts to pry Rodgers out of Cheesehead Land. Spielberger, however, did not include a player in his proposal and made no mention of a new contract for the 38-year-old.

"With three highly skilled wide receivers (Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick), an uber-talented tight end (Noah Fant) and a phenomenal rookie running back (Javonte Williams) all under contract through 2023 at least — coupled with PFF’s 10th-best pass-blocking offensive line so far in 2021 — this is a dream scenario for a quarterback to land in," Spielberger wrote on December 20. "Green Bay may want one of these players, or perhaps a defender in edge rusher Bradley Chubb or interior defender Dre’Mont Jones headed back their way, but Denver’s roster is talented enough to withstand losing a few important contributors — especially if it means acquiring Rodgers."

Expected to move on from incumbent starter Teddy Bridgewater, a pending free agent, the Broncos have only one current QB (Drew Lock) signed for 2022. The team, armed with nearly $50 million in estimated salary cap space and 11 total draft choices, would undoubtedly swoop into the Rodgers sweepstakes if the 10-time Pro Bowler became available.

Which remains a major "if." Rodgers is poised to capture his second consecutive NFL Most Valuable Player award and may well guide Green Bay to a Super Bowl title in February before riding off into the sunset, having scaled football's mountaintop — a la Peyton Manning.

It's equally as likely that Rodgers follows Manning into retirement than into the Mile High City. Or so he says now.

"I wouldn’t rule that out," Rodgers said of calling it quits following the 2021 playoffs amid a December 29 interview with ESPN's Jason Wilde, via SB Nation. "I think that I’m just enjoying this season for this season. Playing next year will definitely be in the thought process. One of the things that, and you and I have obviously talked about this over the years, wanting to not be a bum on the way out and to still be able to play I think is important to me. If this year has taught me anything it’s that, you know, I still can play. I still have a love for the game. I’m still super competitive and still enjoy the process of the week. I miss practice and it’s tough to not be out there, week after week now, but I still do love competing and I love being out there. There’ll be a lot of things that I weigh in the offseason."

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